This may sound strange, but I can remember the first time I ate an English muffin. I was rather young, but I remember that I had decided, like so many kids do, that I did not like English muffins though I had never tasted one before. Why I decided I didn’t like them I’ll never know. Then, when I was around 5 or 6, I believe, we had a family get together. For one of the breakfasts, someone had toasted up a whole platter full of them. I refused to eat them, but was told that it was the English muffins or nothing as the general rule with our family was that the kids were to eat what the adults ate. You either ate it or went hungry until the next meal (not to worry as, when we have family get togethers, its usually not long before someone is cooking up something again!). That left me with no choice, but to try the things. So I slathered one up with lots of butter and jelly and tentatively tried it (there were probably a few tears involved also, but I don’t remember). One taste and I was hooked. I couldn’t believe I had wasted all that time not eating English muffins.
As far as I am concerned, the English muffin is the perfect vehicle for butter and jam or jelly. Split open with a fork, the interior is a landscape of nooks and crannies just waiting to be filled with lakes of melting butter and seas of jelly. When properly toasted the English muffin harbors the perfect ratio of crispy outside and soft moist interior (a big plus for me if you haven’t realized that from some of my other posts).
I have always been satisfied with just buying my muffins at the store, but after having just made Lime Marmalade I thought that the homemade marmalade really deserved a homemade English muffin to go with it. After reading numerous recipes I created one that I felt would give me exactly what I wanted. While not perfect, by my standards (the crumb-interior texture-is just a little too dense and uniform), this recipe creates a muffin that easily rivals any store bought brand, and in my opinion surpasses all but the best of them. I will be making these again this week and I think a little longer first proofing will take take of those 2 small issues.
Makes 9 or 12 muffins
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup water heated to 110F
1/2 cup milk heated to 110F
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Place yeast, sugar, water and milk into the bowl of a mixer. Allow the yeast to proof until the it is foamy-about 5-8 minutes. Add the flour, butter and salt. Using the dough hook, mix, on low speed, until everything is combined and the dough starts to come together, about 2 minutes. Increase to medium high and knead for 5-7 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 2 hours. Gently punch dough down then divide into 9 or 12 pieces (the recipe really should make 12 English muffins but I like mine a little larger and a little thicker for I only portion it into 9). Shape the dough into balls then flatten to about 1/2″ thick. Place on a cookie tray that has been dusted with cornmeal (I like to use coarse ground for added texture but the regular fine ground works well also). Flip the muffins to coat both sides with cornmeal.
Cover and allow to rise slightly, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile heat a griddle to medium-low to medium. Lightly brush the griddle with vegetable oil and add the English muffins. Allow to cook until a light golden brown on bottom. This should take about 5 minutes. Any less and the interior might not get cooked all the way through. When browned flip over and gently press down, just slightly to flatten the bottom. Cook for 5-7 minutes longer. If you have portioned the dough into only 9 pieces the cooking time will be slightly longer. Remove to a cooking rack. Allow to cool completely before placing in a bag for storage.